After I bought a car from a manufacturer I’d never bought from before, I began to notice more of them on the road. Where I thought I was veering from the norm, basking in my uniqueness, I began to realize how many others found the same benefits in the car I ultimately chose as I did. Now, wherever I go, I tend to see these cars. While before I didn’t take note of what other people were driving for the most part, (don’t worry, Range Rover and Tesla drivers, we still see you…) I now started to notice more people driving cars like mine. Other brands? Not so much.
However, there’s one type of car I always notice. That’s because the manufacturer is very smart or very lucky and had a great marketing idea that gets their car noticed. The marketing hook is something colloquially referred to as, “The Toyota Beep.” If you’ve ever owned a Toyota, you undoubtedly know what I’m referring to. It’s that telltale double “meep-meep” the car emits when you click the remote to unlock it. If, like me, you like all the doors to open, then you get “meep-meep, meep-meep” because you’re hitting the button twice in quick succession. Then of course, there are the people who aren’t quite sure they heard both sets of beeps and they’ll hit the button a bunch of times so they’re serenaded by the sound of “meep-meep, meep-meep, meep-meep, meep-meep” pretty much until they actually open the door to their car.
Now, you might say, “What’s so great about a car that makes that sound? It’s annoying,” or perhaps, “When I click my remote the car horn honks.” Ahhh, my friend, you miss the point. Anyone in the vicinity now knows that SOMEONE is driving a Toyota. It’s unmistakable and with your clicking, you’ve just advertised their brand to your neighbors.
While plenty of companies will give out branded items like hats or shits, so you may become a walking billboard for Nike, Coca-Cola or Schwartz’s schmaltz herring, you will not likely wear those items all the time. With the Toyota Beep, though, you’ll be tooting their horn multiple times a day. It’s brilliant, because no one will imagine you’re driving anything else but a Toyota.
I’m sure this is all very interesting to you, unless of course, you don’t care about Toyota or its marketing, and now you’re wondering why I’m mentioning any of it. The point I wanted to make was that some things are just so identifiable that they can’t be mistaken for anything else. But what would happen if someone modified the Toyota so the sound was different? What if instead of the subtle meep-meep, it now blared its horn? You would know someone had tampered with it; that something wasn’t right.
As Jews, we’re also supposed to have certain traits that are constants. Chazal say we are Rachmonim, Bayshanim, and Gomlei Chasodim, merciful, bashful, and kind. When we interact with people, they should be able to tell just from our behavior that we are Jews.
I recall a story of a restaurant worker who asked that leftover food could be given to the homeless, instead of thrown out. When his boss agreed and they started giving it out, one fellow balked. “I don’t want none of your “Jew food.””
Being that it wasn’t a Kosher restaurant, and the fellow wasn’t Jewish, it irked him. He asked why the man called it Jew food, and he replied, “Because it’s obvious you’re a Jew.” The fellow repeated the story to his mother who broke down and admitted that it was true, but they hadn’t told him because they wanted to just be Americans. But, like the unmistakable meep-meep, this Jew’s presence was heralded by the fact that he was considerate and thought of others. His Jewishness shone through in his chesed.
I got to thinking. Do I always make people recognize me as a Jew? I don’t mean by how I dress or what I wear on my head. I mean, do I act like a Jew? When I speak or interact with others, am I advertising my Manufacturer? Am I making it clear to the world that I am a Jew?
Am I merciful or ruthless in business? When someone opposes me, am I bashful and sweet, or do I open a mouth full of chutzpah with a face full of brazenness? When I have the chance to help someone, do I do it, or do I sometimes hurt others? Do I tell myself, “It’s just business,” or do I say, “Hashem is running the world, not me”?
The question really boils down to this: when people push my buttons, what will they hear? And will it make them envious of what I have, or will they shake their heads and believe I’m stuck with a lemon? I think we should each ask ourselves these questions. It is really, “Sound advice.”
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